Feed incorporation of dehydrated sainfoin: effects on health and performances of does and growing rabbits





Dehydrated sainfoin, Rabbit feeding, Growth, Reproductive performances, Coccidiosis, Immunity


The performance and health of does and growing rabbits were compared over three consecutive reproductive cycles for three groups of 20 nulliparous does and their litters (DS0, DS13, DS26) fed isonutritive feeds containing 0, 13 or 26% dehydrated sainfoin (DS, Perly cultivar). Feed intake, live weight and fertility of does were not affected by DS feed incorporation. The number of live kits at birth increased linearly with increasing DS incorporation (+1.5 from DS0 to DS26, P=0.042) and the stillborn rate tended to linearly decrease in groups fed DS (16.6 vs. 10.4%, P=0.086). Increasing the level of DS in feeds had no impact on the growth of the kits before weaning, but led to a linear reduction in the post-weaning growth rate (P<0.01, –2 for 26% DS), whereas the feed conversion ratio increased linearly with DS incorporation (P<0.01, 2.91 vs. 2.98, resp. for DS0 and DS26). No effect of DS feed incorporation was detectable on doe and kit mortality rates. Excretion of coccidia by both does and growing rabbits was not affected by DS incorporation. For 70 d old rabbits, the levels of immunoglobulins A and G and of white blood cells were not significantly different between groups and high levels of IgG (average: 8.1 mg/mL) were recorded, suggesting a coccidia infestation. Overall doe mortality remained under 5% and was not affected by the reproductive cycle (P=0.24). The stillborn rate decreased from 18 to 6%, (P<0.01) from cycle 1 to 2, and the number of live rabbits at birth increased from 8.0 to 10.7 (P<0.01). Kit mortality remained low before weaning (under 2.5%), and very low after weaning (<1%). Excretion of coccidia by does decreased from cycle 1 to cycle 3, whereas excretions by growing rabbits remained stable.


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Author Biographies

Cecile Gayrard, Université de Toulouse, INRAE, ENVT

GenPhySE, Université de Toulouse, INRAE, ENVT

Hervé Hoste, INRAE/ENVT

Interaction Hôte-Agents Pathogènes, INRAE, ENVT,

Thierry Gidenne, Université de Toulouse, INRAE/ENVT

GenPhySE, Université de Toulouse, INRAE/ENVT


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